You know the saying “dog days of summer” defined by Webster as
1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity
Well, the last few weeks of August, when your grandkids are completely bored with vacation and all their summer camps and programs are done for the summer, are the doggiest days of all. August 15th is almost here.
The kids are glued to a screen while their exasperated parents are screening for them to do something constructive.
However, these “dog days” can be the best days of the year for both grandchildren and their grandparents.
Call in the Grandparents
Note: I’m using “grandparent” to mean anyone regardless of age or relationship.
You and your friends are not the only ones looking after their grandkids during the summer vacation, especially the last two weeks of August before school starts again.
The Guardian reports a survey that one-third of UK grandparents care for their grandchildren more than three times a week during the summer vacation. Other amazing statistics are reported. The article concludes that this generosity of time and money not only allows parents to work during the summer school holidays but also builds a memorable relationship between grandparents and grandchildren.
What to do?????
(Throughout this posting, there are several opportunities to go to the original article. They are marked in red. Put your cursor on the area. If a line appears under the text, click and open in a new tab.)
The mega website grandparents.com has an entire section on activities. If you live in the States, you can find activities in 50 cities organized in categories, such as local unique, museums, fun and games, and by age
If you don’t live in the States you, too, can find activities for grandparents and grandkids by searching things to do with kids in ________ ( Add the location, such as Manchester England)
Grandparents.com also has a delightful posting entitled, “100 Things To Do With Your Grandchild This Summer”
Here are some of my favorites from their site.
- Set up a lemonade stand. Make unusual flavors like apple lemonade and pineapple lemonade along with the traditional favorite.
- Stare at clouds. Make up stories about what you see.
- Catch frogs.
- Make one super-duper ice-cream sundae— don’t forget the whipped cream, cherries, and two spoons.
- Introduce the grandkids to lobster. Have a burger handy for when they freak out.
- Scope out populated parking lots for state license plates. Keep a list and try to find all 50.
- Go on a nature walk, pointing out bugs, trees, birds, and butterflies. Bring binoculars.
- Play catch until it’s too dark to see the ball.
The Problem of Discipline
I think that a big problem of summer grandparenting is what to do about discipline. Grandparents are not the parents and grandchildren are not like your children when they were young.
Marilyn K. Smith wrote about taming her two-year-old grandson. Although her advice was focused on the “terrible two”, I think it is just as valuable for the “mouthy ten-year-old” and the “know-it-all teen”.
- Try to understand the individual personality of each grandchild.
- Make suggestions instead of demanding.
- Compromise, compromise, compromise, compromise.
- Don’t sweat it. If they do well, fine. (Give them praise) If not, they’ll learn eventually.
I think that one of the hardest part of grandparenting is keeping up with “I’m hungry” complaints. Try to avoid having lots of sweets and chips as snacks. They only up the excess energy that leads to wanting more snacks and more to drink. Your grands need the same healthy food that you do. Don’t use food as rewards or bribes.
Get the grandkids involved in planning, shopping and preparing. Again, grandparents.com is a great resource. They have a whole section, Recipes. There is an article which defines appropriate kitchen tasks for ages 2 to 12.
Want to build relationships with and between all your grands. Get the cousins together at Grand’s Camp.
Grand’s Camp can vary from a sleepover to a full-fledged organized multi-day event. The mega website about.com in the section on Grandparents has a detailed posting on how to hold a Grand’s Camp. They call it Grandma’s camp. Included is information about:
- Who gets invited?
- When should the camp be held?
- Where will we sleep?
- What should we eat?
- What about a schedule?
- How to minimize the mess?
- Should we have a theme?
- Should we go on outing?
- What happens when the grandparents get tired?
Chilling Out on Grandma’s Couch
My grands, who live about a two-hour drive away, have a very active and scheduled life. We have developed a tradition of about twice a year taking a break and chilling out on grandma’s couch. (Actually their parents have been known to do this, too, but rarely!)
Each one comes alone and is permitted to do NOTHING. I try to keep my “urging” and “instructing” to a minimum. They can watch whatever TV channel they want within reason. At her request, we do go shopping and do such decadent activities as going to two movies back-to-back with a break for McDonald’s (a rarely permitted delicacy).
After no more than three days, they go back home revived——and I go lie on the couch in silence!
There is scientific proof that grandparents love to spend money on their grandchildren. However, overspending, especially during these summer days, can not only leave your coffers drained but also giving you grands the idea that money is endless. Instead, grandparents.com suggests that you can use this time to help your grands learn about managing money.
Grandparents.com recommends that you include your spending for the grands during specific periods as line items in your own budget. Decide how much you are going to each day of their visit.
Use this budget as a teaching tool. Let the grands know how much you have budgeted for each day and plan together how you are going to spend this money.
They suggest that you use cash or a pre-paid credit card so that the grands can actually see how money goes away forever. The site recommends that you let the grands know that they can keep whatever money is left at the end of the visit so that they don’t spend money frivolously.
With my young elementary-school age grands, I used a notebook in which I set a sum of money and then we subtracted from that sum as the money was spent. They could add money by doing jobs around my house.
Leave extra money in the budget for splurges but avoid overspending. Remember memories are not built on how much money you spend.